Hervé Bellaiche, chief sales marketing and communication at Ponant, told Seatrade Cruise News the luxury cuise operator's summer occupancy totalled 130% of the same period in 2019.
‘Our Mediterranean and Arctic cruises have been the best sellers,’ he confirmed.
Concerning customers, ‘It is a total mix. By the way, annually, some 50% of them are from the US, 35% from Europe and 15% from the Asia/Pacific area (mainly Australia).'
Upscaling the fleet
Ponant’s iconic three-masted yacht Le Ponant was upgraded and its first season post pandemic in the Med was a resounding commercial success, noted Bellaiche. It will sail in the Seychelles this winter and head to Australia in the summer.
He noted, 'excellent comments about the quality of service' on Le Commandant Charcot’s inaugural commercial season in the Arctic.
Same satisfaction rate for the Paul Gauguin, in the South Pacific, he added. ‘The ship was completely rejuvenated in 2020/21 but we kept its specification and the destination is perfectly integrated on board.”
First annual sustainability report
In what Bellaiche calls ‘ a very important step for us’ the company’s 'Blue Horizon' road map is exemplified in a 46 page first annual sustainability report, which describes the early results, 'that are paving the way towards more sustainable and meaningful tourism.'
Ponant’s CEO Hervé Gastinel writes: ‘We are sailors for whom the oceans and biodiversity are part of our DNA. We see ourselves as having a responsibility to our guests, our employees and local communities to promote meaningful voyages.
'We have made lasting and ambitious commitments. We aim to decarbonize our cruises, reduce atmosphere emissions, eliminate plastics, recover waste, protect biodiversity, support scientific research aboard our ships and strengthen our partnerships with local communities,’ he continued.
Aligned with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, Ponant’s report underscores its achievements to date: Some 90% of the company’s R&D is focused on improving its ships technical and environmental performance, the aim being to minimize emissions into the air and water.
The 2021 indicators are in line with its commitments to reduce CO2 emissions by 15% by 2026 and 30% by 2030 and reduce nitrogen oxide by - 85% and sulfur emissions by -98%.
Managing water is another area in progress, with drinking water production, recycling, and biological waste treatment systems designed to avoid chemicals and damage to biodiversity.
On board, 100% of waste is separated and sorted, with 60% of it being recycled compared to the global average of barely 20%, it reports. By 2026, this recovery rate will be up to 80% in conjunction with specialized channels ashore.
Ponant teams are also working to reduce the total volume of waste produced. In Ushuaia, resale of recyclable waste has already been helping finance the Garrahan Foundation’s paediatric health missions for the last two years. As of 2022, single use plastics have been eliminated across the fleet.
All vessels in the Ponant fleet have earned the international Cleanship certification issued by Bureau Veritas.
17 new itineraries for 2024
Looking ahead to 2024 Bellaiche said: ‘offering our passengers more innovative destinations is also in our DNA, and for 2024 we will feature a sailing from Seychelles to Sri Lanka (Le Jacques Cartier), New Zealand North, South and Chatham Islands (Le Lapérouse), and Falklands, South Georgia and Valdès Peninsula (Le Boreal, L’Austral).
A voyage from New Caledonia to Micronesia (Le Soleal) also features and new routes from Spitzbergen to America’s Great Lakes via Greenland, the Faroe Islands and Iceland’s west coast(Le Bellot, Le Champlain, Le Lyrial).